‘Nature can be such a balm for troubled souls’ – wise words indeed from one of our Wildlife Lovers. There has been much to trouble us in recent days and weeks, and it is now more important than ever to find solace and comfort where we can. Where better than on our doorsteps, in the form of a free, alternative ‘NHS’ – Natural Health Service. We have been delighted with the response to our email, suggesting we all keep in touch in these dark days by sharing sightings of nature from our windows/gardens/ or where we happen to be on our ‘daily exercise sessions’ and thank you everyone who has been in touch.
Now March has come to an end it seemed an appropriate time to do a little blog, sharing some of your highlights and observations. Some of the recipients of our emails are either temporarily, or permanently not in Wivenhoe, so we are especially pleased to be able to compare sightings from Yorkshire, London, Brighton, France, Suffolk as well as villages nearer to home.
We are glad to report that one of favourite critters, the bee fly, seems to be doing well. Our respondents from Wivenhoe reported a number of visitations to their gardens, and Bombylius major has also been seen in London, St Osyth and Brighton. We have today heard about ‘Bee fly Watch 2020), a national recording scheme for these little wonders. If you would like to take part, please check out this link.
Another of our group commented that ‘Watching butterflies and listening to Radio 3’ was calming, and these colourful insects are indeed a joy to behold. Wivenhoe has seen Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks and a remarkably early Painted Lady. A Red Admiral inspired admiration in France, and our Brighton contributor saw Commas and Small Tortoiseshells.
Other insects that you have told us about include Buff-tailed Bumblebees in Yorkshire, queen bees in Suffolk, and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Juniper Shield-bug in Brighton. We are unlikely to see that particular bug here in our part of Essex (although it does seem to be spreading our way – check out your Lawson’s Cypresses), but the moth (a day-flyer) can be seen if you are lucky. It is a fast-mover and imitates the action of a hummingbird, sipping nectar from flowers with its long ‘tongue’.
Spring flora is springing into action – Bluebells are beginning to bloom in our Old Cemetery: one of our many Reasons to Be Cheerful (see the thread on Wivenhoe Forum here for more of these!).
We, and several of you it seems, have noticed how wonderfully clear the skies are at the moment – the lack of vapour trails caused by aircraft enhances our outlook and sense of wellbeing. ( As one of our group said, it is ‘strangely comforting’ without them). OUR planet has a chance to breathe again, albeit temporarily.
We know some of you have swift boxes/bug hotels and other special features in your gardens – let us know if you get any visitors. We are especially interested in your first sightings of Swallows and Swifts this year. As yet we have no UK Swallow spots, but our couple in France have them there. And then there’s the first Nightingale and Cuckoo to arrive over the next month: the Cuckoo needs no introduction, but if you don’t know the beautiful song of the Nightingale, here’s an example. Regularly heard around Grange Wood and near Boundary Road, Nightingales are also often heard closer to town when they first arrive, and maybe this year with fewer folk around and about, they will stay closer to us.
Please keep in touch and let us know what is going on, on your doorstep, by email or WhatsApp. And keep safe and well.
Photo credits: Sue Minta (Peacock, Bluebell), Val Appleyard (Juniper Shield-bug), Chris – the rest